OSTP, in conjunction with Hofstra University, will co-sponsor a free, open to the public star party July 15 on the National Mall in Washington, DC.
If you are near the DC area in two weeks, come enjoy close-up views of the crescent Moon, Venus, Mars, Saturn, star clusters, and nebulae. You can even gaze at our own Sun early in the evening with the help of specially filtered telescopes. “Astronomy Night on the National Mall” will go from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Thursday, July 15 (with a July 16 rain date). Telescopes, posters, and video equipment will be set up just northeast of the Washington Monument, between 14th and 15th Streets NW, and Madison Drive and Constitution Ave. View a map of where Astronomy Night on the Mall will be held.
Dr. Donald Lubowich, Hofstra University’s Coordinator of Astronomy Outreach, runs “Music and Astronomy Under the Stars,” a program funded by NASA (and recently featured in Sky & Telescope magazine) as a way to conjoin evening concert events in Massachusetts and New York State with educational star parties. “Astronomy Night on the National Mall” is not formally a part of this program, but Dr. Lubowich couldn’t resist the opportunity to set up shop on the Mall that evening, since the U.S. Marine Corp Band will be performing there that night. The National Capital Astronomers and the Northern Virginia Astronomy Club will volunteer their telescopes and expertise for this event, with organizational assistance from OSTP.
Using Stellarium, a free, open-source astronomy program, OSTP has simulated what the sky will look like from Washington, DC around 9:30 pm on July 15th. Take a look at that screenshot here. Stellarium is an easy-to-use tool for learning about astronomy and can be set up to simulate the sky for your specific location.
“Astronomy Night on the National Mall” will take place just blocks away from the South Lawn of the White House, where President Obama hosted a star party last October. Both events are part of the Obama Administration’s ongoing effort to inspire more boys and girls to become interested in classes and careers in science, technology, engineering, and math.
Phil Larson is a Research Assistant at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy